Staunton, August 28 – The incarceration of Ilmi Umerov, one of the leaders of the Crimean Tatar movement, in a psychiatric hospital by the Russian occupation authorities in Crimea underscores that “Stalinist times of the 1930s are returning” in all their extent and horror, according to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
The Ukrainian leader made that comment in the course of an interview with CNN and argued that it provided yet another argument for international cooperation to protect global security and individual rights (president.gov.ua/news/stalinski-chasi-30-h-rokiv-povernulisya-prezident-pro-primus-37991).
Poroshenko said that what is happening with Umerov is “not a problem exclusively of Ukraine; it is a problem of the entire world. And the US as the world’s leader, stand together with us and must stand in defense of global security,” especially as the Umerov case is not unique and hundreds of Ukrainians are now held hostage by the Russian occupiers.
The Ukrainian president’s words come after a demonstration in Kyiv in defense of Umerova and as signatures are being collected in Crimea by his lawyer urging Poroshenko to add his voice and efforts to those of other governments and international human rights groups (qha.com.ua/ru/obschestvo/obraschenie-k-prezidentu-ukraini-v-zaschitu-ilmi-umerova-tekst/164788/).
The appeal says among other things that:
“Today in Crimea, the Russian authorities are intentionally persecuting citizens of Ukraine and especially those hwo openly express their loyalty to Ukraine, speak for its independence and territorial integrity and who insist on human rights and the rights of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people.
“You should be aware,” the appeal to Poroshenko continues, “about the numerous cases of murders, kidnappings, searches and arrests of Ukrainian citizens in Crimea.” Among them is the horrific treatment being meted out against Ilmi Umerov who “for many years has served the Crimean Tatar people and the Ukrainian state, meriting the respect not only of the Crimean Tatars but also the residents of Crimea of various nationalities and faiths.”
Ten days ago, the appeal says, “by an illegal decision of ‘the Kyiv district court’ of the city of Simferopol and despite serious problems with his health and his undergoing treatment in one of the hospitals of Simferopol, officers of the FSB confined him to a psychiatric clinic for legal-psychiatric evaluation.
“The conditions of the detention of Ilmi Umerov in the psychiatric facility are generating serious concerns about the state of his health which is getting worse and also about his life.” Consequently, it says, “we are appealing to You with a request and demand that you use all the possibilities of a chief of state” to win his release.”
Human rights groups, the OSCE and the Office of the EU Representative in Kyiv have already called for the Russians to release Umerov (qha.com.ua/ru/politika/obse-prizivaet-k-osvobojdeniyu-ilmi-umerova/164813/ and qha.com.ua/ru/politika/v-es-potrebovali-nemedlennogo-osvobojdeniya-umerova/164805/).
It is important that Poroshenko has done the same, and it is already long past time for all people of good will and their governments around the world to do the same lest the Russian occupiers get away with this latest crime, one that, as the Ukrainian president points out, highlights Russia’s return to the worst features of the totalitarian past.